Low water pressure results in trickling showerheads and faucets, but high water pressure can damage your plumbing system. Similar to checking your indoor air quality, testing your home water pressure a few times a year can help you identify and remedy problems before they get worse. Use this as a guide on how to test the water pressure in your home.
The Importance of Testing Home Water Pressure
Many people only think to test the water pressure when it becomes noticeably low. However, too much of a good thing can be bad. High water pressure can harm your pipe connections, water softener, water heater, faucets, and appliances. Blowouts in flex lines and washing machine hoses are also more likely, which could, in turn, flood your home.
How to Test Home Water Pressure
The only tool you need is a simple, inexpensive pressure gauge, which you can purchase at any hardware or home improvement store. Look for one with female hose threads for easy hook-up, a rubber gasket to form a tight seal, and the ability to measure up to 300 pounds per square inch (psi).
Once you have a suitable gauge, follow these steps to measure the water pressure:
- Make sure the water is turned off inside and outside of your house. Shut off all faucets and showerheads, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerator ice makers, and sprinklers. If water is moving anywhere in your plumbing system, this may cause a low pressure reading.
- Hook up the gauge to a faucet or hose bib on the outside of your house. If you get your water from a municipal utility, select the one closest to the water meter. If you have a well, choose a hose bib as close as possible to the well’s pressure tank.
- Tighten the gauge by hand and open the faucet all the way. If water leaks when you do this, turn the faucet back off and tighten the gauge with pliers. A good seal is necessary for an accurate reading.
- Look at the gauge to determine the pressure. An ideal reading is between 45 and 55 psi. If the pressure is below 40 psi or above 80 psi, you should take action.
How to Address High or Low Water Pressure
What’s the verdict? Is your water pressure too high, too low, or just right?
- If it’s too high, consider installing a water pressure regulator on the water main to ensure a maximum flow of 75 psi. Even if you already have one installed, it’s still wise to test the water pressure in your home because pressure regulators can fail without noticeable symptoms.
- If it’s too low, inspect the pressure regulator, if you have one. It should be set to 50 psi by default, but you can adjust the screw on top to improve the flow. If a pressure regulator isn’t to blame, the municipal water utility may be delivering low water flow to your home. You can solve this problem by installing a water pressure booster to improve the flow every time someone opens a faucet.
- If it’s just right, there’s nothing more you need to do. Tuck your pressure gauge away for a few months until your next test.